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ECAR Fact Sheet for Oregon
Wastewater Discharges

Self-Audit Checklist
Best Management Practices
Related ECAR Fact Sheets
Other Relevant Resources


The following fact sheet was prepared by the ECAR Center staff. Once prepared, each ECAR Center fact sheet undergoes a review process with the applicable state environmental agency(ies). You can check on the status of the review process here. Please read the disclaimer on the status page. While we have tried to present a summary of the essential information on this topic, you should be aware that other items, such as local regulations, may apply to you.

What You Need to Know

Vehicle salvage businesses generate wastewater during daily operations. Sources of wastewater include hot tank solutions and parts washers. These wastewaters may contain metals that can cause them to be hazardous or they may be corrosive hazardous wastes. They may also contain oils, greases, solvents and detergents.

You will almost certainly need separate permits both for stormwater runoff (see the ECAR Stormwater fact sheet) and for any industrial wastewater that you generate.  This page will give you an overview of how to handle your industrial wastewater.


Facilities that industrial wastewater or wash water to a sanitary sewer (city, county, or district sewage treatment plant or wastewater treatment plant) are not directly regulated by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). In this situation, the Department requires the wastewater treatment plant to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) or Water Pollution Control Facilities (WPCF) permit. The treatment plant is then required to regulate the discharges into their system and to maintain compliance with their DEQ permit. If you would like to discharge to the sanitary sewer, please contact the local sanitary authority for more information. A permit and fee may be required from the local authority. Also, if you are already discharging wastewater or wash water to the sanitary system, you are required to notify your local sanitary authority; no notification is required if you are only discharging sewage.

Pretreatment. You may need to pretreat the wastewater in some way before putting it in the sewer. For example, an oil/water separator or treatment for a particular contaminant may be required. The used oil collected during pretreatment may be eligible for recycling with your used oil.

Hazardous Waste. In areas where a wastewater treatment facility is not available or cannot take your water, you must carefully manage the wastewater from your shop. If the wastewater is hazardous, you must manage it by sending it to a permitted hazardous waste facility. See the ECAR Hazardous Waste Fact Sheet. If your wastewater is not hazardous, you can haul it to an approved wastewater treatment plant if the plant is willing to accept it.

Disposal. If you cannot connect your shop to a wastewater treatment plant, you may be able to discharge domestic wastewater (water from restroom or kitchen facilities) to a septic system. You will still need to collect any industrial wastewater (water from parts washers, floor cleaning, etc.) and manage it as described above.

*Do not put your industrial wastewater down the drain unless you are connected to a sewer and treatment plant and have permission from the plant.

Discharges to Waters of the State. If your facility discharges industrial wastewater via a "point source" (such as a pipe, etc.) directly to waters of Oregon, you are required to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issues these permits. Waters of state include (but are not limited to) ground water, storm drains, rivers, streams, lakes and ditches. Automotive recyclers must apply for the NPDES General Permit for Industrial and Other Sites.

Links to the Regulations and Forms. Use the following links to view the regulations and permit forms pertaining to wastewater.

NPDES Industrial General Permit for Industrial and Other Sites

Water Pollution Control Facilities Permit

Federal Safe Drinking Water Act Requirements

Self-Audit Checklist

When an inspector comes to your facility, there are certain things he or she checks to see if you are in compliance with environmental regulations. It makes good sense for you to perform a "self-audit" and catch and correct problems before they result in penalties. Also, there are some compliance incentives associated with self-audits (see Audit Policy Page).

Use the following list to audit your wastewater management activities.

  1. Does your facility discharge process wastewater? Are the discharges authorized by a permit? Check all uses of water and steam within the industrial areas of your facility. Determine where wastewater is generated and discharged. You must have a NPDES permit to discharge to surface waters and may need a permit to discharge to your local sewer authority.
  2. Have you performed the necessary pretreatment? If you are discharging to a sewer system/treatment plant, you likely will have to perform pretreatment of your waste. Check with your local sewer authority.
  3. Is oil or solvent discharged to the sewer? Federal and state laws prohibit the discharge of oil or flammable solvents to the sewer system. These are regulated wastes that must be properly disposed of.

Best Management Practices (BMPs)

Most regulations tell you what you have to do to be in compliance, but they don't explain how to do it. That's where "best management practices" come into play. BMPs are proven methods that help you to get into compliance and stay there. The following BMPs are recommended for wastewater management.

  • Limit water use and the volume of water discharged through conservation methods and by reusing water whenever possible.
  • Train employees to use water efficiently.
  • Don't use water for cleaning floors and equipment unless absolutely necessary. Use dry cleanup methods for spills.
  • Post signs at all floor drains and sinks in industrial areas of your facility to discourage employees from using the drains to dispose of oil, other vehicle fluids, solvent, paint or similar liquids. Review these rules with your employees.
  • Use only non-toxic soaps to clean floors and vehicles instead of hazardous materials.
  • If you have floor drains at your facility that are not in use, consider having them capped or plugged to prevent misuse or accidental discharges.
  • Prevent drips and spills from reaching the floor.
  • Check your floor drains and make certain you know where they discharge.
  • Setup and use a maintenance schedule for inspection and cleaning of floor drains, oil/water separators, traps, etc.
  • Never have floor drains where hazardous materials are stored.
  • If your wastewater is nonhazardous, you may want to purchase evaporating equipment to evaporate your wastewater. It should be noted that evaporators may require an air permit or registration, and evaporator bottoms may be considered a hazardous waste.
  • Don't use degreaser solvents to clean engines. Most engine degreasers are hazardous and should not be discharged to a POTW. Even if you use nonhazardous degreasers, the oil and grease concentration in the spent degreaser may exceed the limit allowed by your sewer authority.


  1. For more information, contact the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) at 503-229-5696 or 800-452-4011 (toll-free in Oregon).
  2. To report a spill or leak, contact the Oregon Emergency Response System (OERS) at 800-452-0311.
  3. To report an environmental incident or complaint, contact the nearest DEQ Regional Office.

Related ECAR Fact Sheets

  1. Stormwater
  2. Septic Tanks and Disposal Wells

Other Relevant Resources

  1. Oregon DEQ Website Frequently Asked Wastewater Questions
  2. Oregon Petroleum Contaminated Wastewater Management Policy
  3. Stormwater Pollution Control Plan Check List for 1200-Z and 1200-COLS Permits PDF
  4. OR Vehicle Dismantlers webpage


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